Every week new movies come out, so many that even obsessive moviegoers like myself can’t keep up with it all. That means inevitably means that a lot of movies go unwatched, and even more don’t get write-ups which makes me a bit sad. So today, before another vicious cycle of movies come out tomorrow I want to talk about Thoroughbreds.
Really, this movie is the one I want to talk about. I know from that trailer that it looks like a really bizarre, off-putting and thoroughly mediocre film, and you’re right on the first two parts but it’s actually pretty solid otherwise. That is if you’re into more “off the beaten path” kind of movies, if you’re more into standard popcorn flicks then you should definitively avoid this movie I wouldn’t want you spending 10 bucks on a ticket just to dip out after 15 minutes because it’s too uncomfortable, which I totally get because uncomfortable is the perfect word to describe Thoroughbreds.
Basically, the plot of Thoroughbreds is that Lily (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) are trying to find a way to kill Lily’s step-father Mark (Paul Sparks) and enlist the help of a local drug dealer Tim (Anton Yelchin) to help them make it happen.
For me the heart of this film is the question, “Is it better to do what is right or what benefits the group most?” and on the surface the answer seems really obvious, murdering a person isn’t worth it. Ever. However, I don’t think the goal of the movie is to convince anyone that murder is a good thing to do, but rather to cast doubt on whether or not this particular murder is evil. The film primarily casts doubt through the characters.
First, there is Amanda, the emotionless individual who presents the idea of murder not as a moral quandary, but a simple calculation of risk vs. reward. Then there is Lily, who does everything in her power to create the persona of the innocent, sweet girl being tortured by the world with her evil step-father lying at the center of it all. Anya Taylor-Joy plays the part of Lily magnificently, towing the line between cold-blooded and embarrassingly emotional, all while looking way too attractive. I only bring that up because the film makes it really clear that Lily’s physical appearance is a very big part of selling her persona. Like there are multiple scenes of her obsessing about getting her make-up precisely correct. Frankly, it was unnerving.
Mark, the “evil” step-father, and victim apparent is a rotten human being. Another attempt to muddy the waters of morality. Mark is a just an enormous tool who really is to some extent emotionally abusing Lily, all while being a juice cleansing, crew rowing, ultra-rich executive. Ya know, exactly the kind of person your average Joe would go, “screw that dude, the world is better off without him.” The film’s voice of reason falls to the scene-stealing and late Anton Yelchin at local drug dealer Tim. Because if your drug dealer is the voice of reason you know you’ve crossed into some seriously murky waters.
These characters all via to give information and arguments about the large question at hand, to do what is right or to do what benefits us all the most. You know what the most interesting (or infuriating depending on your perspective) part of this all is? After two hours exploring these ideas, the movie doesn’t give a clear answer to what it thinks the answer is. It merely presents the events as they unfold and leaves it to the audience to decide if they believe the outcome was “correct”. I feel confident in my answer that murder is still definitively wrong, but Thoroughbreds made me think about it for at least a whole week and I call that a big win in my book. So if you’re looking for something darker and more open-ended with its message give Thoroughbreds a see, if not there is always the new Tomb Raider. I’m sure it’ll be plenty straightforward. Later.